Bible, Christian Writer, Connected to God, God speaks, Holy Spirit, Medieval Fiction, pilgrimage, The Word of God

GOD SPEAKS, DOORS OPEN

Last weekend we had the absolute ‘joy’ of being able to spend time with some lovely friends. Joy (yes she shares my name) and I met online around 18 months or so ago, connected by our writing and our heart to share kingdom truth through fiction. It was so good to finally meet face to face. And to spend hours, yes hours, talking about our writing, plans, ideas and dreams. It was good to meet Joy’s Ukrainian husband. And to get the smallest of insights into the reality of what the conflict means for his people, and for God’s people in Ukraine. To pray for them and with them.

Image of a couple standing together on a headland, with the sea, sky and a small island behind them

For part of the weekend we offered a tour of some of the places the pilgrims visited in my recently released novel, The Pilgrim. We had a wonderful day, retracing the steps of Brother Hywel, albeit in reverse. The day was punctuated with exclamations of, ‘This is where Hywel raised his hands to heaven in praise,’ ‘This is where Hywel took the boat to Bardsey Island’, ‘This is where Hywel knelt and encountered Jesus.’ Except of course Hywel was not real! We had to keep reminding ourselves of the fact. It still felt very much like we were walking in the footsteps of many, many pilgrims.

GOD SPEAKS

In both of my books, The Healing and The Pilgrim, I try to demonstrate how much God wants to speak to us personally. That might be through other people, it might be through things we experience or observe, it might be through dreams or prophetic words, it is always through the filter of His Word. This last weekend God spoke to me really clearly.

The day before our pilgrim tour, Joy had been challenging me about how I saw my writing. How did I weigh it against other things I believed God had gifted and called me to do? She spoke about my published novels as perhaps being the means of God opening up other things for me, like ‘handles on a door’ perhaps. The following day, as we progressed around our tour, something began to happen that was really quite strange.

DOORS OPEN

Outside of a small stone church with door ajar

I have visited the little ancient stone church at Pistyll many times, and it has always been locked. I have had to peer through cloudy windows to get a glimpse of the interior, and based my descriptions of it in my book on similar churches I had seen. On this day, however, we found the door unlocked, and stepped inside to find sweet smelling rushes on the floor and a simple altar, just as I had imagined it.

inside of a small simple stone church, with rushes on the floor and a simple altar table with a wooden cross.

Then we visited the great church of St Bueno at Clynnog Fawr. The church that stands on that site is a 15th century pilgrim church, but part of it was built over a much more ancient church – dating back to the 6th century. Whenever I have visited before, that part of the church has been behind locked doors – three of them! Now I think you are going to guess where I am going with this.

When we first entered the church the first door was indeed locked, but at some part during our visit we suddenly realised it had been unlocked. And the next one, and the one after that! We stepped through each open doorway in growing excitement, until we were standing in the very spot where pilgrims had worshipped for centuries. As I stood taking it all it, just so thankful for God’s goodness, some words came to my mind and I spoke them out,

‘Whatever door I open remains open, and whatever door I close remains closed’

I knew it was scripture, if in paraphrase, and later I found it in Rev 3:7-8

‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. ‘

Man walking through open church doorway into a whitewashed chapel

GOD SPEAKS AND MAKES IT PERSONAL

Now I know that those words were written to the church in Philadelphia, but taking into consideration what Joy had already said to me, and the strange co-incidences of finding doors opening everywhere we went, I knew in my spirit that God was speaking to me. A new excitement has filled me since; I know He is about to open up doors for me that I thought were shut. I don’t know exactly what that looks like, but I have an idea, and I think it might well involve collaboration with my friend Joy.

What made it even more special was that God spoke to me in the very same places as He spoke to my imaginary 13th Century pilgrim, Brother Hywel. God speaks! And I have no doubt that He will find the right time, the right place and the right way to speak to you too. Be ready!

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Bible, Blog Tour, Book Review, Books, christian fiction, Christian Writer, Forgiveness, Medieval Fiction, pilgrimage, The Word of God

A Pilgrimage of Forgiveness

Image shows a stained glass window depicting medieval pilgrims, with a copy of The Pilgrim book in the foreground

Today is day 8 of the blog tour to celebrate the release of my second novel, The Pilgrim, on Friday of this week. Our dear writer friend LIZ CARTER was due to post a blog today, but sadly is not well enough to do so. Liz had asked me to write a guest blog on how the subject of forgiveness is explored in the book. So here is the text of the blog I wrote for her. I hope it blesses you.

Understanding and accepting forgiveness

The idea for my second novel The Pilgrim came from a scene in my first, The Healing. In it, Brother Hywel reveals to Philip a bit of his own history, his secret guilt. How a youthful indiscretion set into motion a series of devastating consequences for people he cared about deeply. He does so to illustrate to his younger friend how powerful forgiveness is in bringing about transformation in our lives.

So in fleshing out Brother Hywel’s story, The Pilgrim inevitably became a story of one man’s journey to understand and accept forgiveness. Fairly early on in the story he is offered forgiveness by the man he has hurt and betrayed. At this point in the story Hywel is still Hal, not yet having entered monastic life.  As his friend, Cenred, is dying, he tells him that he has forgiven him, but then goes on to say this:

‘I have but one thing to ask you in return.’

Hal lifted his eyes to meet those of his friend. ‘Anything! I will do anything. Tell me what I must do.’

The desire to put things right, to somehow negate the pain and grief his actions had caused this man, was so overpowering.

‘Forgive yourself.’

Hal was confused, and also disappointed. Was there not something else he could do? What Cenred was asking was impossible.

He felt a squeeze on his hand again. Cenred had closed his eyes, but seemed determined to say more.

‘I must commend myself to God’s forgiveness soon. You will find God will forgive you also, if you come to Him truly repentant. But, Hal, accepting that you are forgiven and forgiving yourself… those are the only ways that you will be able to walk free… of the guilt and pain you are bearing now.

‘You are so young, Hal, and there is so much good you can do with the rest of your life. But to do so you must be free. It is what I desire most for you. What I long for.’

The grace gift of God

Image of a large cross, dark against a blue sky with sun rising above a cloud

Although he struggles to embrace the enormity of those words when they are spoken, Hywel does eventually come to understand them. It takes an encounter with God at the foot of the Cross, and a personal revelation of God’s mercy and grace, for him to realise the extent of the forgiveness on offer to him. Still he has to accept it for himself, receive it as the grace gift it is – a gift still offered freely by the cross of Christ for each one of us who willingly responds to Him. 

Hywel’s journey continues. For to truly know freedom, to truly become the man God has called him to be, he must forgive himself. He hears the stories of two of his travelling companions. Both have experienced the burden of living with guilt, and both in their own ways have come into a new understanding of the power of forgiving self. As Hywel struggles to come to that point himself, so I believe we all can struggle with forgiving ourselves.

Forgive, as you have been forgiven

In His story of The Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18 : 21 -35) Jesus taught that we ought to forgive as we have been forgiven. Forgiving others is not always easy, but perhaps we feel more inclined to do so when we understand how much we have been forgiven by God. But what if Jesus meant His words to apply to forgiving ourselves also? Forgive yourself, as you have been forgiven.

I think we sometimes feel we have to continue to carry the guilt for the things we are ashamed of, long after God has forgiven us. That somehow we are serving some sort of penance by doing so. But that is not living in the grace of God. If He has forgiven us then there is no more to pay – the Cross has done it all. Guilt and shame can continue to keep us burdened and bound, and self-condemnation is a favourite tool of the enemy to keep us from living in the freedom that God’s forgiveness offers us.

Scripture says if I belong to Christ, then I am no longer condemned (Romans 8:1) If God does not condemn me, than neither should I condemn myself. We need to be truly repentant for our mistakes, of course, but once we have come to the Cross and received His forgiveness, it is a done deal. Accepting and receiving God’s forgiveness means letting go of our guilt and self-condemnation once and for all. Whether it be in a small stone church, or a wind- swept mountain top, or in a monastery guest house – there will come a time when we, as Hywel and his fellow pilgrims did, need to forgive ourselves and walk free of our burdens.

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

Image shows a garden table and chair, with the view of the sea beyond. On the table is a copy of the book, The Pilgrim, and a vase of mulitcoloured flowers.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing, and links to purchase her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Books, Christian Writer, Faith, God in control, Grief, Healing, Holy Spirit, Medieval Fiction, New Author, pilgrimage, Seasons of life, The Word of God

A Heart Set on Pilgrimage

image of a path across a headland, with the island of Bardsey on the horizon

As I write this, I really should be doing something else. I am supposed to be editing my manuscript for my second full length novel, The Pilgrim. The editing has been taking up most of my time and energy for the last few days. I know it has to be done, but I am finding it both exciting and exhausting. It is with mixed feelings that I read and re-read, and correct the words that I have written. And always the questions… is it going to be good enough? Are people actually going to want to read this?

Heart pilgrimage

At the end of each chapter, as I did in my first book, I have inserted a verse or two of scripture. In The Pilgrim these are taken from the Psalms. Each one is chosen for how it speaks into what is happening in the life of the central character, Brother Hywel, as he walks his own spiritual journey. But many of them have personal meaning to me too, like this one:

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
Psalm 84: 5-7 NKJV

I have chosen to write about a real pilgrimage in the book, hence the title. But it isn’t just the physical path of pilgrimage that is Hywel’s journey to grace. It is also the inclination of his heart, to truly seek after God. 

Image of a valley path with the text of Psalm 84 :5

Tears bringing life

On my own journey I have been through some dark valley times, when it really feels like the Valley of Baca (‘Baca’ means ‘weeping’). I have struggled to understand why, but it isn’t always for me to understand. I only have to keep my heart set on Him. My ‘pilgrimage’ is to step by step walk the path that leads me closer to His heart. And it isn’t always easy to stay on that path, especially when blinded by tears.

But what if the very tears that I weep actually help to water the dry ground around me and turn it into springs of life? My strength to keep going actually comes from Him, if I ask for it! And He will increase that strength as I keep walking, make me even more resilient and fruitful. Nothing is wasted in Him. I might walk through the Valley of Weeping, but my very presence turns it into a place of blessing!

Image of the front cover of The Pilgrim. The title of The Pilgrim is in black font against a white background that looks like manuscript paper. The 'P ' is illuminated. Beneath this is a brightly coloured stained glass image of a group of pilgrims.

The Pilgrim: a pool of blessing

My tears have fed into the story I have written in The Pilgrim. My prayer is that the book becomes a pool of blessing for many. I am blown away that God has chosen to use the things that I have gone through, in my own pilgrimage journey, to create books that might just do that. I’ll remember that as I continue the sometimes painful editing process!

At least the book already has the most beautiful of cover designs. I pray that the words inside will be just as beautiful.

(The Pilgrim is due to be published in July 2022, but you can pre-order your copy now, by commenting on this blog post)


Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing, and links to purchase her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Books, Christian Writer, Faith, Medieval Fiction, New Author, pilgrimage

THE PILGRIM WAY

I love that I live in an area where there is a rich history of centuries of Christianity, and that is traversed by ancient paths well-trod by many a pilgrim. When I started writing my second novel, I knew it would be about Hywel, and that it would include monks and abbeys, but I also wanted him to take a physical journey. And what better way than to make it a pilgrimage? A recognisable one. And I had the perfect fit, right on my doorstep –  the North Wales Pilgrim route from Holywell to Bardsey.

It is a route still walked by pilgrims and walkers today, although it perhaps does not have the prestige it once had. In medieval times it was said that if you completed the pilgrimage to Bardsey three times, it was the equivalent of a pilgrimage to Rome, in terms of the favour and indulgences it could earn you. Today it is just a beautifully scenic route, following the seacoast and traversing mountains, with ancient holy sites and churches along it’s route. If those are things that interest you.

I have never done the full route, and I would love to, if ever I am able to. But there are pilgrim sites that I have visited many times and are dear to me. They also feature in Hywel’s story as significant places, where he encounters God in different ways.

CLYNNOG FAWR

Large ornate stone built church with castellation sand large pillion windows.
St Beuno’s Church, Clynnog Fawr

This little village with a large church sits on the north coast of the Lleyn Peninsula. It was a busy place in the height of the pilgrimage era, hosting pilgrims and providing for their needs. A must stop for the medieval pilgrim, not least for St Bueno’s healing well nearby. The church that stands there now would not have been there when Brother Hywel arrived. But there was a church, and in that church Hywel experiences something of heaven in the simple worship of it’s community.

PISTYLL

Small stone church nestled on a hillside with the sea visible beyond
Pistyll Church

All that remains at Pistyll is the tiny pilgrim church, perched as it is on the cliff top. This is probably the very church that Hywel would have stepped into. Before the simple altar in this one-roomed stone building Hywel truly understands what mercy and grace mean to him personally. I love Pistyll, its peace and beauty. It stays with you, as it will in Hywel’s heart.

UWCHMYNYDD

It is no lie to say that this is my favourite place in the whole world. To stand on this cliff top, overlooking the island of Bardsey and the wide endless ocean beyond, really feels like you are standing on the edge of the world. And that if you reach up your hands you could touch heaven itself. It is a thin place. Yes the views are magnificent and the sea air fresh and clean, but it is more than that. I have never felt closer to the Creator in any other place I have been. I think it might be partly due to the thousands of faithful saints that have stood on that hill, overjoyed at last to see the island that was their destination. Full of praise to God for getting them there. Hywel feels it too, and experiences a moment of sheer exuberant joy on that mountain top.

Grassy clifftop with path, looking over the sea towards a small island. Wide expanse of clouds and skies with hazy light.

I would love to tell you more about Hywel’s pilgrimage and what he sees and experiences on the way, but for that you will have to read the book! The Pilgrim is due to be published July 2022 but you can pre-order a copy from me now  https://joymargetts.com/contact/

And if you would like a sneak preview of The Pilgrim then do subscribe to my newsletter and in a few days time you will receive a post with an extract from the book, and a little bit of information about my personal connection with Hywel’s story. You can sign up here     https://joymargetts.com/

Thank you for being a part of my writing journey, which has become such a huge part of my own life pilgrimage.

Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Bearing Fruit, Books, Christian Writer, Faith, God in control, God's faithfulness, Grief, Healing, Lessons from life, Medieval Fiction, New Author, Seasons of life, The Passion Translation, The Word of God

HARVESTING JOY: A NEW BOOK!

I have realised that four out of my last five blog posts have featured other people’s books. Now that is not a bad thing; I love reading and reviewing books. And there have been some great books to read and review! But I do think that perhaps I should dedicate this blog post to talking about my own book!

A NEW BOOK

A smiling author signing a publishing contract

 Not The Healing, or even The Beloved, much as I love talking about them. No, I’d like to talk to you about another book. A new book. I have gone and done it again. I written a second full length novel and have signed a publishing contract with Instant Apostle. The Pilgrim will be published, God willing, in July of next year. Which seems an awful long time to wait, but I’m sure will speed by! There is plenty to keep me and my wonderful publishers busy between then and now, I’m sure.

When I wrote The Healing, I had no idea where it would lead! I loved the whole writing and publishing process so much that almost as soon as The Healing was published I had started writing The Pilgrim. Brother Hywel needed his own story, and so the idea for a prequel was born. (Now I know that isn’t the normal way to do things, but it worked for Star Wars!). It was a much harder slog to get the book down this time, made yet harder by the disruption of major house renovations and the arrival of a new grandson. But the manuscript is finally finished, and I am so grateful for Instant Apostle having enough faith in it to publish it for me.

I won’t bore you with all the story details at this stage, as I’m sure there will be time enough for that over the next few months. Needless to say it involves monks, abbeys, and horses, and a redemptive journey in the form of a pilgrimage.  If you want to get sneak previews you can always go to my website and sign up to receive my newsletter, as that will be where I will be posting a lot more about the book in the coming weeks. http://www.joymaretts.com

HARVEST OF JOY

Sheaves of ripened wheat in a sunlit field

I was reading Psalm 126 this week, ‘ They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.’ I know there are many ways of interpreting that verse, but for me it seemed to just speak into what God has miraculously been doing in my life. There has been a lot of weeping. I grieved, and still do grieve at times, the life that my illness stole from me. But I can look back now, and see that what was being sown, as I wept, was the seed for what I am able to do now. Now I can write; words of truth and life, words of hope and redemption, all wrapped up in historic fiction about medieval Welsh monks! And my words can touch many –  I have had  so many messages from readers to prove that this is actually happening. Maybe this is the harvest – the abundance of sheaves that can have my heart rejoicing. It really feels like it might be. And it is all down to Him.

Those who sow their tears as seeds
    will reap a harvest with joyful shouts of glee.
 They may weep as they go out carrying their seed to sow,
    but they will return with joyful laughter and shouting with gladness
    as they bring back armloads of blessing and a harvest overflowing!

PSALM 126 :5 – 6 The Passion Translation

The Pilgrim Fantastical pre-order Prize draw. Sign up for a pre-order copy now to win a chance of winning one of three great prizes.

Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Books, Christian Writer, Faith, God in control, God's faithfulness, House renovations, Lessons from life, Medieval Fiction, Thankfulness, The Word of God

THE SIMPLE THINGS (BEING THANKFUL)

So we are home at last, and it is wonderful. The main building and reconstruction work is done: now work begins to get the house decorated and fitted out. We have no kitchen, no bathroom, and bare floors throughout.

who needs furniture…

I like camping, we always have done as a family, and it is just as well. Because at time of writing we also still have no running hot water, and no flushing toilet. Don’t be alarmed  – we have not resorted to digging pits in the back garden yet – we are coping admirably with the old toilet and a bucket of water at hand to flush it.

(This blog is all very lavatorial so far, my apologies, but it will improve –  honestly!)

Simple: essential or convenient?

so near and yet so far...

My son’s reaction when he heard we had moved back in without a flushing toilet was astonishment. (Concern for our wellbeing as the old codgers he perceives us to be, no doubt). The text messages went something like this –  ‘I can’t tell you how much of a bad idea I think this is’ and ‘a flushing toilet is what separates us from the animals’. I replied reassuringly, but then got to thinking. Actually his second statement is just not true. A huge section of the human race does not have the luxury of a flushing toilet, and that in no way reduces their status of humanity. We are just so blessed in the developed world that we see these things as essential to our lives. Of course we can live without these simple things. We just choose not to. For lots of good reasons.

What is an inconvenience for us – and that only for a few more days (hopefully)  – is a way of life for so many. And we have electricity, and a roof and windows, and clean running water, and soft beds, and fridges and freezers, and food on our tables.

my camping kitchen...

Being without some of those simple things, those everyday conveniences, has made us even more thankful for all that we do have, and usually take for granted. Don’t get me wrong – I will celebrate heartily when the new toilet and wash hand basin are finally plumbed in. But in the meantime, I will also celebrate all the good and simple things that we are daily blessed with. And take a moment or too to remember those who would love to live as comfortably as we do. Even in our unfinished home.

Choosing to be thankful

I have learnt the power of thankfulness in a new way over the last few difficult years, and it is a theme I refer to early on in The Healing. Philip learns from his mentor, Brother Hywel, the importance of being thankful for the simple things. And he does it the hard way (you will have to read it to find out more)! Whatever we are facing, however inconvenient, uncomfortable, or stressful it might be, if we can retain a heart of thankfulness then we get a better, more positive, and definitely more balanced outlook on the situation. God would say so too.

 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Ephesians 5:20 (NKJV)

Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in mediaeval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

More information on Joy and her writing can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Book Review, Books, Christian Writer, Faith, Medieval Fiction, New Author, Uncategorized

TWO FAB (CHOW) BOOKS

As a newly published author I have had the extraordinary blessing of being introduced to a whole new community of like-minded gifted writers. In fact the pandemic has helped me meet far more people than I could ever imagine as online groups have sprung up all over the place. One such group that I have become a part of is ‘FAB CHOW’. I know – makes no sense. But it was the name adopted as the group has a rather wordy title – the Association of Christian Historic and Biblical Fiction Writers – A O C H B F W, rearranged, is FAB CHOW. And it is fab to meet together, share our writing and critique one another, and champion each others achievements. So today that is what I am going to do. I want to introduce you to these great books by two authors, who, like me, are new to this publishing business. Both are very enjoyable reads, with good storylines and containing strong faith messages. I’ll leave the authors to tell you more…

MAN OF GLASS by Andrea Sarginson

As rumours of a terrible plague reach gifted young glazing apprentice Amalric’s village in East Yorkshire in 1349, he dreads its arrival and despairs of the Church’s response and his village’s rampant superstition – but even he cannot deny the ominous portents that seem to abound. When the gruesome pestilence at last comes to Warren Horesby and neighbouring Meaux Abbey, Amalric and his family are blamed. Exposed to brutal recrimination, he is horribly injured in a vicious assault. Suddenly his survival depends on the care of a shy servant girl and the improbable support of the village priest and a newly qualified doctor of physic with pioneering ideas. Can the village ever come to terms with the ravages of the pestilence? Can Amalric honour his family, fulfil his talent and help the village survive? And can he find love and happiness in the aftermath of the terrible disease.

Andrea Sarginson says, Man of Glass is fiction based on fact, inspired by the remains of a medieval village and Cistercian Abbey in East Yorkshire, and the history of the Black Death. I have written about what could have been. After all, who knows about the lives of people buried long ago in a village church graveyard when records were seldom kept: who made the stained-glass windows of the fourteenth century churches, how did the ordinary person with only the basic traditional healing methods react to the symptoms of the devastating pestilence, what was it like to be a doctor unable to help? Written just before the Covid pandemic, when it was unknown in England, my novel has proven to be eerily prophetic.

About the author: Andrea Sarginson trained as a midwife, operating theatre nurse, teacher, and later as an art historian with interests in art and stained glass. She lives in Greater Manchester and since 2012 has been an Authorised Lay Minister in the Manchester Diocese. She approached retirement combining both art and medicine as an associate of the Arts for Health Department at Manchester Metropolitan University. Creative writing became an interest for her when retired, developing a curiosity for the interaction between medicine, art and spirituality.

Man of Glass by Andrea Sarginson (ISBN: 9781912726189) is published by Instant Apostle, 304pp, £8.99. Available from andrea.sarginson@googlemail.com for £7.00 incl postage.

Leaving Bethany by Susan Sutherland

“I was a bird that liked my own garden and lacked the confidence to fly away to new places. I wondered whether I would ever have the courage to leave Bethany.” 

Judea 32 AD

It is a day like any other in the sleepy village of Bethany. Martha, a young widow, meets a travelling Rabbi called Jesus. And her life changes forever.

To become a disciple of Jesus is a dangerous decision, but one Martha must make. She follows Jesus to his death and sees him comes alive again three days later. Now, she is at the heart of the group of believers around Jesus. She changes from one always ready with a plate of food for a hungry guest, to being eager to teach others the things she learned.

How can she follow Jesus in the perilous world of religious politics and Roman rule? Those who killed Jesus are now looking to stop them by any means possible, including murder. It is only a matter of time before they come for her family. Martha now faces her greatest challenge. Can she find the path to truth through danger and betrayal to save those she loves?

Susan says:  There has been much talk of late about the women who followed Jesus as his disciples. Not only providing materially and financially for him but working and learning alongside the traditional male disciples. The story of Jesus’s female disciples has for far too long been given less prominence than his male ones. An imbalance I wanted to redress. Martha of Bethany has such a compelling story, her voice cried out to be heard and I had to write it for others to read.

About the author: After running her own educational training company and writing articles that appeared in several educational journals, Susan turned her hand, and her keyboard, into writing her debut novel. Following success in flash fiction, the full-length novel, Leaving Bethany appeared. The sequel is now in process of being written with a third planned.

Visit www.leavingbethany.com for more information and details of how to buy Leaving Bethany.

sue.sutherland@bury.org.uk

Hope you are inspired to read them yourself!

Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in mediaeval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

More information on Joy and her writing can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Books, CHOOSING HOPE, Christian Writer, Faith, Lessons from life, Medieval Fiction, New Author, Thankfulness, Uncategorized

BIRD’S EYE VIEW

Out temporary home is a little self contained flat on the top floor of a four storey Victorian terraced house on the seafront. Where I sit to write is by a window, that if you look straight out of all you can see is sea and sky. Some days it feels like you are onboard a gently rocking ship, and a little disorientating to say the least!  However, if you peer over the windowsill and look down, the view is much more revealing.

From where I sit, or stand (to get an even better look!) it really is a bird’s eye view. I can say that, because opposite us is a street lamp that both seagulls and pigeons use as a handy perch, and that perch is a good 6 feet below our window. I have the opportunity here to do what I cannot do at home –  to people watch, and to do it unnoticed! What is it about beaches, and holiday makers, and day trippers, that I find so fascinating? The lunatics who think swimming in the sea on a freezing April morning is a good idea? The hapless novice paddle boarders who paddle aimlessly round and round in circles? The stalwart sea fishermen who sit for hours and seemingly catch nothing? Or perhaps the young couple who don’t realise they have an audience for their amorous canoodling?

No, I am not a voyeur! But it is hard not to smile at the things people do when they don’t realise that they have an audience. It has keep me entertained, particularly on the days when the ME symptoms make contemplating the four storeys of stairs difficult, and I have missed getting out to enjoy the unseasonably warm sunshine, and the cool fresh sea breeze for myself.

We have a magnificent sea view from our own home too. But it is very different. The sea is further away and there is a garden and field between. We can see and hear people, but only at a distance. We are much more likely to bird watch from our windows at home, than people watch. I miss it. And being able to step outside effortlessly, through my ground floor patio door, into the sunny garden beyond.

It made me think about how our views and perspectives can change, dependent on the season of life we are in, and what we are experiencing. In both homes I have so much to be thankful for. It’s different here, but it is still good. I miss my home, but I am blessed to have somewhere warm and comfortable to stay whilst my home is being rebuilt. I have days when it is hard to get a good and helpful perspective; when I feel weary, when the news in the media is sad, when the book sales have slowed down, when the build is delayed… but I have learnt the lesson that Hywel teaches Philip in the early pages of The Healing

Being thankful is a good place to start in order to begin to see thing more positively. Be thankful for the everyday things, big and small. Focus your mind on those good things that you are grateful for.’  

 The Healing , p 29

I am thankful for my bird’s eye view and for the laughs it has given us. Thankful that I live in such a beautiful place, with such amazing vistas. And most of all, thankful that God is with us here, and in it all, book sales included!

The Healing was published by Instant Apostle on 19th March 2021, and is now widely available in both paperback and kindle format.

Signed paperback copies are also available direct from me at www.joymargetts.com for £9.99 including UK postage. Visit my website for more information and do sign up to receive my newsletter.

Books, CHOOSING HOPE, Christian Writer, Faith, Lessons from life, Medieval Fiction, New Author

JUST AN OPPOSING VIEW

I took this shot whilst visiting the building site that is our home this last week. As I looked at the photo, the word that came to mind was ‘juxtaposition’. I love it as a word – juxtaposition – the way it rolls off the tongue. It starts with a hard, almost jarring, ‘jux’ and then tapers into a soft ‘tion’ at the end. Which is apt when you consider what the word means

Juxtaposition:  ‘The fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect.’

So things or images placed together that create a startling contrast: hard with soft, light with dark, gloomy with cheerful.

I guess my photo is an example of the juxtaposition of two views. There is the pile of slabs, the mess, the indication of the upheaval of the demolition that is going on out of shot, against the calm serenity and unspoilt beauty of the coast, sea, sky and mountains beyond. In fact the whole building site is one great juxtaposition. There are instances of it all over the place – the period windows against the new plasterboard walls, the glorious view looking out of the window, against the not so glorious view looking back in through the same windows!

It got me thinking. We are surrounded in life with juxtaposition. This last year or so has highlighted that more than ever. We live among contrasts and conflicts. There is joy and there is grief – like a sovereign celebrating her birthday within days of burying her beloved consort. There is laughter and there is tears, often in the same day, or at the same occasion. We are socially distanced, and separated by miles, but perhaps closer in some ways via Zoom, than we ever have been before. We celebrate life events and walk through our days of work and family life, and yet around us the world is still in turmoil. Perhaps it is all just one big juxtaposition.

As Christians we know all too well what it means to live in tension. We know the reality of the Kingdom and all that God promises and yet somehow the reality of life, as we perceive it, doesn’t always seem to fit with what we believe. We sometimes have to choose to look beyond the things we see, feel, and understand, and hold on to the truth His word promises and declares. We can have hope because of what Jesus did on the cross and because of what is promised us, in eternity, and in the here and now.

When you look at that photo, or at this one, where are your eyes drawn? I’d like to guess that you don’t focus on the mess in the foreground but instead your eyes are instinctively drawn to the beauty beyond. That’s how it should be with us. We need to learn to live in the juxtaposition that life throws at us, by not focussing on the mess that seems to be closest to us, but by focussing our eyes, hearts and minds on the expansive, light filled, beauty that is Him.

God knows and understands. The cross was perhaps the biggest juxtaposition of them all. Love hung bleeding, for the sins of us all, the righteous for the unrighteous. Separated from God so that we could draw near. Death bringing life. Our reason to hope.

The Healing, my debut novel is described this way ‘impossible to read without encountering hope.’ Part of my healing journey was learning to choose hope in the face of despair and you can read more about it in the book. It was published by Instant Apostle on 19th March 2021, and is now widely available in both paperback and kindle format.

Signed paperback copies are also available direct from me at www.joymargetts.com for £9.99 including UK postage.

Books, Christian Writer, Dealing with Fear, Faith, Lessons from life, Medieval Fiction, New Author

THAT FEAR THING

It has been incredibly busy week. We have packed up our lives, and moved lock, stock and dog into my parents’ house, so that the builders can start the much anticipated reconstruction of our home. It has been stressful, and exhausting, and frustrating at times. There have been moments of hilarity and also the odd raised voice. We are so grateful for the use of the self- contained flat at the top of Mother’s seafront Victorian house, but that means stairs – lots of them – and that is a challenge for both me, with my limited mobility, and for the old, confused, arthritic dog!

Mother’s seafront flat

The feeling that has been there in the background, for me, during the whole of this process, and finally came to the forefront last night, is fear. I know, as a ‘good’ Christian I shouldn’t let fear overwhelm me (I even wrote about it in my book!) but honestly, it does sometimes. Before I had ME I was pretty fearless about most things, but one of the by- products of my condition is fear (mostly irrational). In the early stages of my illness I became hypersensitive and had strange reactions to things like shampoos, body lotions and some foodstuffs. It has left me very careful and controlling about what I use on, or let into, my body! It is not as a controlling fear as it was – it is one of the things God has been working on with me. A couple of years ago I would not have contemplated the huge changes that are happening in our lives right now. So that is good! Really good.

So what got me so fearful? The jab. Yep, the Covid vaccination. Not facing the needle – as an ex- nurse, they don’t faze me – but actually having a foreign substance injected into my arm. The rational me knows the facts – how safe and important the vaccine is. The irrational fear panicked me about what effect the vaccine might have on my body – would I have a severe reaction, or long lasting side effects? ‘You may feel tired, experience headaches, have flu-like symptoms’ – well that just about describes every day living with ME! I don’t need any more of those type of symptoms, thank you!

Empty house, confused dog

Fear is real. Even irrational fear. And it can very easily overwhelm our minds, hearts and emotions. It is not wrong to be fearful. It is a natural human response and I refuse to be condemned, as though experiencing fear is some sort of sin or failure. Instead I need to learn how to respond to that fear. I knew that I needed to get some God truth in me to build my faith and fight back. Funnily enough I was prompted to read something I had written myself…

It’s amazing how the things around us can either make us feel at peace inside, or can steal our peace. Storms without can cause storms within.’

‘It is true,’ Hywel replied. ‘The kind of peace I want more and more is the kind that Jesus had, that He promises can be ours. A peace that stays true despite our circumstances.’

‘The peace that Jesus experienced during that storm; how do you think He came by that?’ Philip was keen to know the answer. Was that a kind of peace available to him, he wondered?

‘Several things, I think. It was a gift from God, obviously, but I believe Jesus accessed it by His own will. He trusted God to protect them. He knew enough about God’s plan for His life to know that it wasn’t His time to die, and also that God had a reason for wanting Him on the other side of the lake. He had a God-designed destiny, and a God-arranged destination, and an appointment with a demon-possessed man needing to be freed. He also knew who He was, and that He had the God-given authority to calm the storm. He chose to believe in those things, and not the evidence to the contrary that the storm seemed to present.’

‘So,’ Philip thought out loud, ‘inner peace comes from faith in God.’

‘Yes, I would say so. We choose to have faith in who God says He is, and what He is capable of. We can also take courage from who He says we are, His sons. We can trust that He has plans for our lives, and He has the power to accomplish those things for us.’

‘Were you afraid on the ship?’

‘Honestly? Yes. Fear in itself is a normal human reaction. You would expect to feel fear every time you entered a battle?’ He glanced over at Philip who nodded in response. ‘I was afraid, but I have learned to do the things God requires me to do, even when I feel fear. He promises to ride the storm with me, every time.’ He continued, ‘I prayed the whole time that God would help me, to not let my fear become greater than the faith I had in Him to keep us safe. My mind was eventually able to find a degree of peace, unlike my stomach.’ He smiled wryly.

The Healing , Chapter 7, pp 94-95

I wrote that because I know it is the truth, but it is a truth that I am still learning! Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don’t. Today I read it again before we left for our appointments, and His peace went with us. We got our jabs, all is well, and even if it gets a bit rough over the next day or two, I know that He will be with us. That fear thing? It’s not going to win.

The Healing was published by Instant Apostle on 19th March 2021, and is now widely available in both paperback and kindle format.

Signed paperback copies are also available direct from me at www.joymargetts.com for £9 including UK postage.

The website also has more about me, the story behind my books, and some historic background which you might find of interest.